Resident Evil 2 Remake - Review

The Resident Evil 2 Remake is just about perfect. 

Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Jan 25, 2019
Platform: PlayStation 4

I need to preface this review by saying I have always been extremely fond of the Resident Evil franchise. I got into it way too early when my father borrowed an original PlayStation with a stack of games as a trial period to see if he wanted to buy his own. I was nine or ten years old in 1995/1996 and completely enamored with video games and any new gaming tech. Obviously I had to try out each game and see what this new hardware generation offered.

Honestly, the only game I remember from that stack was the first Resident Evil. Most notably because it scared the life out of me in the first fifteen minutes. I loaded it up, watched the amazing low budget horror movie sequence (the first time I had ever seen real movie quality video in a game) arrived at the Spencer mansion, listened to some terrible voice acting, took a left through the dinning room, a right into the hallway, another left right into the now classic first zombie encounter.

A cut scene played where you are staring at the back of a zombie who is kneeling over a corpse, eating it. You hear a pop, blood spills all over the floor, and the zombie slowly turns its head to notice you standing behind it. The game resumes, zombie kills me, I turn the game off and run away from the PlayStation. What the hell had happened.

That was my introduction to Survival Horror. Resident Evil was probably the main reason my father decided to buy a PlayStation in the end. He bought the official strategy guide (which were a much bigger deal pre-internet) and we went back in, more prepared, twice as afraid. We played through Resident Evil more times than I could possibly count.

I remember back in the day games made in Japan would take an extra six months to a year, sometimes longer, to be localized for release in the United States. In the back of gaming publications like GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly there were mail-order catalogs where you could order imported copies of games for various consoles as well as mod chips and other products of that nature, which allowed you to bypass region locked playback on North American consoles. These catalogs were sometimes just as informative as the earlier pages of the magazine. I could see that Resident Evil 2 was already out in Japan but I had no idea when it would come state side.

I informed my father as fast as I could of Resident Evil 2's pending release. He ran to an Electronics Boutique the next day, obtained the release date, and arrived home receipt in hand. Resident Evil 2 was the first game we had ever pre-ordered.

Flash forward to 2019. Resident Evil 2 finally receives a remake over twenty years later. I had pretty high expectations going in but man, Capcom managed to improve upon it in almost every way.

The controls, graphics, and I'm pretty sure even the puzzles, have been completely overhauled. Gameplay is much smoother with standardized single analog stick movement and over the shoulder camera. No longer are you forced to suffer tank controls and weird tilted camera at the end of a hallway cinematic navigation. Capcom also put an end to door opening loading screens. Players can simply just walk or run through a door, vastly improving the pacing of the game.

Players still save on typewriters but ink ribbon is no longer a requirement. I found this to be one of the most noteworthy quality of life improvements in the this new version.

Scares are still there. Mr. X still chases you around just about the entire time. I didn't find it overwhelmingly frightening at any point. Maybe my tolerance has been raised after sitting through Resident Evil 7 torment. 

Resident Evil 2 still gives players the option of playing through with either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield then playing as the opposite the second time through. I first played as Leon then followed up with Claire. Each character has differences in their playthrough including meeting different characters and discovering different weapons. No matter who you start with your second playthrough will scatter some puzzle elements and storage boxes in slightly different areas to keep you guessing throughout. I preferred Leon's run over Claire's mostly for the difference in weaponry but also because I did not like a short segment where you play as a character Clare befriends early on. 

Returning to Resident Evil 2 in amazing fashion are Hunk and Tofu runs. Capcom has also added Ghost Survivors mode which contains short segments where you play as a couple other characters. I haven't tried these yet but I welcome their inclusion.

Overall, the Resident Evil 2 Remake is just about perfect. There was actually one part in particular that I always hated dealing with in the original version that Capcom decided to omit and I could not be happier about that. It was such a great nostalgia trip to play and I am lining up Resident Evil 3, 4, 5, and 6 runs as soon as possible. I certainly hope Capcom continues to take this amount of care with the Resident Evil franchise in both remake form and sequels.

- Matt

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